Crooked numbers decorated the Texas Legends (23-20) box score as the team continued its winning ways on the West coast. Visiting the Santa Cruz Warriors (25-19), D-League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, the Legends used a showstopping third quarter to secure a 120-107 victory. Texas outscored Santa Cruz in the third by 21 points, 43-22, taking a 12-point lead into the final quarter and winning an important game.
The red hot Legends have begun a new winning streak, currently standing at three after building a four game streak that ran from February 25th to March 7th. Since the win at the end of February, the Legends’ point differential is a staggering plus-143. Their only loss in the past eight games was at the buzzer…and we won’t talk about that.
Stephane Lasme started his ninth game and made his 12th appearance for the club in tonight’s contest. He’s been an unstoppable shot blocker since his arrival but tonight things just got silly. Though nothing new for him, Lasme picked up a whopping eight blocks to set a new season high, surpassing two six spots. With 13 points and 12 rebounds, he nearly achieved a highly unconventional triple-double.
“During the game I don’t keep track of (blocks), I honestly don’t,” says the Gabon, Africa native. “Unless my teammates say something, I don’t track them. I just react to people going for layups and read defenses. I don’t really keep track of the count or anything like that.”
Eight blocks tonight brings his season average to a superhero total of 4.1 a game. He doesn’t yet qualify for the D-League leaderboard, but would have a full block and a half lead over the next competitor.
Six of the nine Legends scored double-figures and the offense simply keeps churning night after night. Pierre Jackson made all 10 of his free throw attempts and like Lasme, flirted real hard with a triple-double, coming up just an assist shy. He finished with a game-high 25 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. His perfect mark at the charity stripe inspired the team to a 20-of-23 effort (87%).
The next high scorer was, to no surprise, Jameel Warney. Several Legends are hitting their stride as the season winds down, but none are playing better than the big man in the middle. Along with 24 points, the Stony Brook alum double-double’d with 13 rebounds and blocked three shots for himself. Between he and Lasme, the two bigs swatted 11 Warriors’ attempts. The team blocked 15 shots, more than double the total of Santa Cruz (seven).
“He’s a really talented player,” Lasme says of his teammate Warney. “I think people outside of our organization are seeing how good he is and what he can do on a nightly basis. We help each other on the floor. We talk a lot while we play, we talk a lot off the court and we kind of figured each other out pretty early on. I like playing with him a lot. It’s good to be his teammate.”
Along with incomparable rim protection, Lasme brings a lot of experience to the Legends and more than what he coyly admits to “a little bit of defense.”
“I’m also someone that can knock down shots. I’m sure it was part of Coach Bob (MacKinnon)’s plan when he got me. He knew what I was bringing to the table so I just do the things I do.”
Being a dominant force on the defensive end inevitably labels you as a defensive star. However, Lasme has more than most bigs have to offer on the offensive side of the basketball.
“Since I got out of college I’ve always had the stigma that I couldn’t shoot it. I just want to focus on taking good shots. I’m big on taking good shots and letting the game come to me. I worked a lot in the off-season on my jump shot: off the dribble, spot-ups. I trust my work ethic and I’m sure if I focus on getting good shots I’ll make a lot of them.”
The Legends and Warriors are back at it again Saturday night. The instant rematch takes place at 9 PM CT/7 PM PT. Santa Cruz is currently 2.5 games up on Texas with a Legends win closing the gap to just 1.5 games.